It’s late this year. At least, around here it is. Today marks the official arrival of springtime, but my snowdrops and hellebores haven’t bloomed yet and they’ve usually shown their faces by the end of January. There are a few pathetic pussywillows along local roadsides, and there are crocuses in a neighbour’s yard, although not in ours. (I think voles or squirrels discovered the drifts of bulbs I planted a few years ago, and decided to abscond with them to store in their pantries.)
We have an uneasy relationship with springtime this year. Our home and rural acreage became a real estate listing last summer; thus, we didn’t expect to be dealing with spring projects like garden cleanup, power washing driveways and decks, or window washing this year. But here we are, still maintaining the place in a potential-homebuyer-ready condition. We do love it here, but at this point I’d rather be exploring the options of somewhere smaller.
Spring has cometh; would that WE had goneth by now! In the current real estate market it’s an exercise in balancing frustration with patience. God undoubtedly has a relocation plan in mind for us, but his timeframe doesn’t appear to be ours.
In the meantime, I’m contemplating upcoming yardwork and spring gardening. <sigh>
We travelled over the recent Christmas break! I add an exclamation mark to that statement because it was a major achievement for us. Not only was it the first Christmas spent with family since before the start of this miserable Covid-19 pandemic three years ago, it was only possible because (1.) after catching the virus on December 4, my hubby and I only tested negative again on December 20, the day before we were meant to depart; and (2.) our region had been hit with a major winter storm two days before we left, and another was forecasted for two days after we left. Somehow we managed to make the two-day drive on the only two good days that week.
We anticipated bad roads and a stressful drive, so had made an overnight motel reservation for the half-way point. As we climbed back into the truck on our second morning, the thermometer read -31°C. — frigid, yes, but with a glorious blue sky.
Being with our family was such a blessing and I’m so glad we were able to go, but now that we’re back at home again, a smidgeon of awe exists that we actually went. The pandemic played right into my introverted nature and over these three years I’ve mostly been content to isolate at home. I backed away from activities that involved being with people and now that the world is beginning to re-emerge, I’m still reluctant to return to them.
But…surprise! We re-emerged from our self-imposed cocoons and survived. On our trip we ate in public restaurants, slept in a strange motel room, went to a church other than our own. While I still ordered groceries online when we returned home (our fridge was decidedly bare), today I ventured out to shop at a local store. Granted, I wore my trusty mask, and used hand sanitizer the instant I returned to the truck, but… baby steps. 🙂
How has the pandemic affected you? Is your life getting back to normal, or is ‘normal’ an impossible reality for you?
Before we were married my hubby and I both came from families with dogs–my hubby’s household had Maltese Terriers and, except for one American Cocker Spaniel, mine had Labrador Retrievers. After we married, and with college years behind us, we began acquiring our own. The first two were German Shepherd/Labrador crosses, one that had a nasty temperament and didn’t stay with us for long, and the second, a wonderful family companion for all of her twelve-plus years .
Every so often in a conversation about our dogs someone asks how many we’ve had. The answer almost always generates an eyebrow-raising response.
Boots (German Shepherd/Labrador)
Cindy (German Shepherd/Labrador)
Westgyle Bonnie Keltie CD* (our foundation bitch)
Carean’s Rusty Wee Robyn (died as pup in an accident)
Carean’s Rusty Robyn CD
CH** Shiralee Christabel Carean CD
Misthill’s Calypso Careann CD
CH Dutchman’s Bimbo at Carean CD
Careann’s Brody Breanne CD CGC***
Careann’s Caramel Coby
Firestar’s “Marla” (Returned to Breeder)
CH Shiralee’s Elizabeth Barrett
Careann’s Classic Rendition CD CDX**** CGC (co-owned/Charlotte Davis)
Careann’s Ebony of Cedarwood CD (Co-owned/Heather Garvin)
CH Riversedge Tynan at Careann
Tanaco Duckndogs Careann Eclps
* CD = Companion Dog (Obedience degree) ** CH = Canadian Champion *** CGC = Canine Good Citizen **** CDX = Companion Dog Excellent
Like a proud parent, I could bore you with umpteen photos of cute puppies, backyard frolics, training fiascos and canine cuddle times, but I won’t. (You’re lucky! Except for a few photos that happen to be on this computer, my albums are packed away in boxes in the sure and certain hope that sometime soon we will be moving.)
I bred and exhibited Shetland Sheepdogs for thirty-five years, so there were always multiple dogs under foot. While my goal was to improve my bloodlines and keep only the best quality dogs for breeding and exhibiting, they were first and foremost family pets, and lived in the house with us, never in a kennel. I’m sure our children can’t recall a time when their lives didn’t involve our dogs and their needs.
However, ours has never been primarily a dog-focused family. Neither our lifestyle nor our budget would accommodate the dedication that the successful breeding, training and promoting of champions and breeding stock requires. And there were only so many dogs we could live with at any one time. My hubby used to say, “One dog is perfect, two are okay, three are a bit much, four are too many and five are out of the question!” We had five at one point! Thus it never did develop into much more than a pleasant hobby for me, albeit a well researched one.
After we acquired our first purebred Sheltie we had no desire for any other breed. That is, until our youngest daughter recalled my parents’ Labradors and took a notion to own one of her own. When she married and moved away, she took her Lab with her, and suddenly our home was missing something besides a daughter. It might have been all the black hair — don’t let anyone tell you that short-haired breeds shed less than long-haired ones; they don’t, and hollow Lab hair floats to places long strands of Sheltie hair can never hope to reach. But soon we decided we had to add our own Labrador to the Sheltie mix.
Now well into our late-retirement years, we are finally down to just one dog. It happens to be another Labrador. I have no intention of ever breeding Labs–my stash of Lab health, genetics, and pedigree knowledge is woefully lacking. And since my arthritic knees are no longer capable of jogging around show rings, I’m not likely to exhibit again (unless I can convince our trusty handler to come out of her retirement and do it for me).
In fact, Clipper may well be our last dog. It’s probably safe to say he’ll be our last big dog. And after sixty-plus years of marriage and dog ownership, I suspect my hubby would be content with the list concluding at sixteen dogs. ‘Sweet sixteen’ seems like a good number, right? But… but… if a beguiling little Sheltie should happen to come our way could we withstand the temptation? Hmm, I wonder!
My ‘refreshed’ blog doesn’t look as I had originally hoped. After years using the same template, I thought it would be timely to make a change. The problem is that in the interim, WordPress altered how editing is done. I have never liked the new ‘block editor’, despite its claim to be easier to use. So, adding a template change to my struggle with the method of editing has ended up with compromises and a look that I don’t particularly like. <sigh>
Be forewarned and please be patient. For the next little while, whenever you visit here, you may think you’ve accidentally wandered onto the wrong site as I continue to make alterations. Hopefully I’ll figure out how to make them without losing all my content in the process!
We’re mid-way through autumn. I only know it because the calendar says so. The reality of our days is that one blurs into the next, week after week, month after month. This is our third fall dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and after all this time, although Public Health Authority restrictions have eased, we’re still taking precautions and it feels like nothing will ever change…that this is our forever.
But things have changed and are changing. People are missing from our lives now — we’ve lost four dear friends, and two family members during the pandemic, all without ever having a chance to say goodbye.
One inevitable reality of passing time is aging and loss, and that’s something for which there’s no immunity.
While the weeks, months and years have been blending into each other, subtle changes have slowly become not-so-subtle. For the last twenty-six years my hubby and I have loved living on our rural acreage, but lately we’ve found its everyday upkeep is requiring increasingly more energy than we can sometimes muster. We’ve always been blessed with relatively good health, but it’s becoming obvious that it’s time to downsize to something more manageable.
Will we miss the privacy and tranquility of our ‘Wildwood Acres’ and its wonderful neighbourhood? Undoubtedly! Are we enjoying the current upheaval in our normally comfortable lifestyle? Definitely not! But change is always an adventure. God has led us through many of them in the past, and we trust Him as we explore this new path into our future…another new season in our lives.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”[Jeremiah 29:11]
One of the pages I follow on Facebook is entitled A Room With a View. The postings are usually a random collection of scenes…beautiful, unique, nostalgic, but always lovely. So I did a double-take recently when I saw this rather ordinary black and white photo. On second glance I realized it isn’t the photo that’s meant to be special, but the memories it evokes.
I was blessed to have both sets of my grandparents through my entire childhood, well until into my married years. (My hubby wasn’t as fortunate; he recalls having just one grandmother and only until he was four.)
There were several aunts, uncles and cousins in my family, but we weren’t big on hanging out together all that much…except when it came to the grandparents. Their homes were the gathering places. And what do I remember about them?
The earliest memory is of my paternal grandparents’ home on Charles Street in Vancouver, the Christmas I was four. In the darkened living room beside the decorated tree and below a large round mirror, the fireplace blazed with the enthusiasm of a typical McGuire fire and I sat on the floor in front of it , mesmerized by the flickering flames and the tree lights. I still have the fuzzy stuffed cat I received that Christmas. (I think it was intended to satisfy my oft-vocalized desire for a real live puppy…which I didn’t get until my tenth birthday.)
It was at their kitchen table that I learned how to ‘spool knit’, taught by my grandmother, using an empty spool into which my grandfather had obligingly hammered five nails.
That wasn’t their first home in Canada, but it was the first I was familiar with. I don’t know how often they moved, but I do know their first home was a claims cabin in Alberta.
I was nearing my teens when my grandparents moved from Vancouver to what was then a rural area of Surrey. My bricklayer grandfather, helped by my father and uncles, built a cement block house on property that we always referred to as ‘the farm’. It might have been a half-acre at best, but with an ultra-large vegetable garden between the house and the gravel road in front and a small chicken coop in the back, it represented the best of country living as far as I was concerned. The house is still there, albeit on a much smaller lot now surrounded by city homes.
I recall Christmas Eves when all the relatives would gather there. Those were evenings the living room was filled with music. We all sang, but various members also played piano, accordion, violin, melodion, and harmonicas. Some sat on the hearth, and when the chairs were full, others chose the floor.
I had no siblings and was the first, thus oldest, grandchild, but my aunt and eight younger cousins lived in a small bungalow on the same property so when I would occasionally spend a weekend or some holiday time there, I didn’t lack for playmates. The big treat was sharing a bed in the guest room with two of the cousins, and scaring each other as we told ghost stories in the dark.
While I can still visualize the floor plan, the outdoors was more memorable for me. I recall campfires in the middle of the driveway, and burying potatoes in the hot coals to be dug out in the morning and fried up with fresh eggs for breakfast. On summer evenings when we were allowed to stay up late, we sat on the grass close to the front porch listening to my grandfather’s tales about Ireland and basking in the potent fragrance from my grandmother’s Nicotiana bed.
As I think about it now, it’s surprising to me that I spent much more time in, but have fewer memories of time spent in my maternal grandparents’ home on 14th Avenue in Vancouver. I know we visited there often. Dinner on Sunday was a tradition. Sometimes we gathered at the kitchen table, but other perhaps more special times, around the dining room table.
I spent a lot of non-eating time in that dining room because it housed their piano. There were doors on both sides of the room to close it off from the kitchen and living room and supposedly contain the sound of my inept tinkering on the ivories. I couldn’t read music, but would attempt to play from my aunt’s collection of familiar pop songs, following the notes up and down, adjusting with sharps or flats as needed. In rotrospect, everyone must have indulged me with great patience since I doubt the doors truly stopped much of the racket!
The other room that I remember well is their livingroom which housed the radio where I loved to curl up in the well-stuffed maroon armchair to listen all Sunday afternoon. Are you too old to recall the Jack Benny Show, Superman (remember the “faster than a speeding bullet” intro?), Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, Burns and Allen, Ozzie and Harriet, Our Miss Brooks – oh, and the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers?
The opposite corner of the livingroom housed a short, glass-fronted bookcase tucked in between the fireplace and outer wall. The couch took up much of that wall, so it turned the floor space in front of the bookcase into a little hideaway where I sat and read. I still have two large children’s tomes from that bookcase. I recall other books I probably wasn’t meant to read but did.
Back in the 40s and 50s the northward trek from the south coast along the winding Fraser and Thompson Rivers was an agonizingly slow one. Occasionally when my parents made one of their trips by Jeep into the Cariboo I was left in my grandparents’ care. Sometimes I got to sleep in my aunt’s bedroom, but if she was home to occupy it, my space was ‘upstairs’. Behind the kitchen was a flight of stairs, accessed by an almost unnoticeable door. It turned and led up to a long narrow room under the eaves. Its walls and ceiling were wrapped in dark stained wood (shiplap?) with only one small window at the front, street end, offering any natural light. Did I mind being up there all by myself? Not at all. An introvert even then, I liked having my own private domain where I got to read well after my normal ‘lights out’ bedtime because my grandmother didn’t like climbing those stairs so would call up from the kitchen, “Are you in bed?” and I could truthfully answer that I was. She rarely thought to ask if my light was out. (I must have been a devious child!)
One other memory I have of that house is the coal storage room in the basement. Delivery of coal for the furnace was made via a shute aimed through a window directly onto the cement floor. Thanks to the coal dust, the room was filthy, but until the supply of coal receded we didn’t have to go in very far since the bucket and shovel sat inside the door.
Apparently the more I think, the more memories I can conjure up. But enough’s enough. I think I’ve more than adequately answered A Room With a View’s question, don’t you?
It was pointed out to me recently that my fourteenth anniversary of blogging is coming up in June. The person who brought it to my attention also asked, “Has it all been worth it–the blogging and the writing?” I provided a flippant, “Oh, yes; I may not be successful by some standards, but I enjoy it, and for me that’s what counts.”
That led to the inevitable question about what I’ve recently published, and I had to admit there’s been nothing new because I haven’t submitted anything for publication in ages. His expression told me that in his view I was a failure as a writer.
…if I were to define “worth it”, it would mean something different for all of us, for we are all as individual as the very things we think about and value the most. Is writing worth it to me–absolutely.
As I move into my fifteenth year (of blogging; I’ve been writing other things for decades longer), it’s tempting to think I need to evaluate, recalculate and perhaps redirect my efforts. However, being both mid-pandemic and post-surgery, the time doesn’t seem quite right. I think I’ll just move ahead on whatever project appeals to me. ‘Worth’ doesn’t need to be a criteria, at least not today.
There is so much beauty in our world. And so much ugliness. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to focus. Thanks to technology and social media, distant corners of the world have drawn closer, so what is happening today in Ukraine feels like it’s happening in my backyard. The pain and anguish of a war waged upon innocent people by an evil man isn’t my war, but the horror of it still weighs heavily.
Most of the world is telling Vladimir Putin that this aggression is unacceptable. I doubt he’s listening. While international sanctions will surely cause him some inconvenience, he was prepared for it. This is no spur-of-the-moment invasion. I have every confidence that Putin anticipated the world’s reaction and built self-protection and retaliation into his plans long before he began executing them. So, as I view this war at a distance, a tiny voice from my backyard can be heard warning that its effects will inevitably be felt here. This is the reality of the world in which we live today.
~ ~ ~
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-7]
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a unique time on the Christian calendar. As holidays go, it has no particular designation, and for those who don’t have to return to work, is often a jumble of unrelated post-Christmas activities such as assembling packaged gifts (and shopping for those ‘batteries not included’ necessities), eating leftover turkey, mailing out a few more late greeting cards to those who unexpectedly sent one to you, maybe playing family board games, and other such things.
There’s a residual sense of wellbeing; an extension of that “on earth peace, good will toward men” we’ve been exposed to throughout Advent. But then we turn on the television and see Mike Holmes putting sad-faced African children on display while guilting viewers into sending financial aid for them. In fact, if you listen to the news, you can’t help feeling despair over the world’s inequality, wondering if there will ever be real peace in our world, or if humanity can ever be counted on for good will towards each other.
It’s moments like this that I tend to recall the words of a song that appeared many years ago — ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ — which in turn remind me of so many kindnesses that have happened around me, just in this past year when life has sometimes been exceedingly difficult.
We have no control over what happens as a result of others’ actions, but we can help change the world if we will just act on the song’s last line…”and let it begin with me.”
So, what might we do to make a difference in someone else’s life today? And again tomorrow? What small kindness?
September 22 … the first day of autumn. It’s my favourite season and I’m always happy when it arrives, despite complaining that I’m not quite ready to part with summer. It’s been greeted with both rain showers and sunshine today. Last weekend we had a series of storms — wind, torrential rain and hail. Our summer was long and hot, so the moisture isn’t unwelcome, but it’s really done a number on our flowers. The pots and baskets are burgeoning with greenery but blossoms are almost non-existent.
Fortunately, there is Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’). I first encountered this hardy sedum while visiting in the beautiful Minter Country Gardens near Chilliwack, BC. There were huge oak half barrels flanking the entrance gate, planted with impressive mounds of the rusty-pink flowers, all abuzz with honey bees.
I didn’t come home with a plant on that particular trip. Instructions suggested it needed lots of sunshine, and I knew our shady property couldn’t offer the right conditions. But each spring while picking up bedding plants at our local nursery I would hover longingly over the little pots until one year I decided it couldn’t hurt to buy just one and test its ability to cope with the acidic, shaded environment.
And cope it did. In fact, it grew and spread until, after a few years it had outgrown its spot. I took to yanking out new volunteer plants each spring until I decided it was too vigorous for the location and I dug out every evidence of it.
But I really like Autumn Joy, so I risked salvaging one little piece. Initially I put it in a tub so I could move it around into the sun … but visiting bears seemed to think I was serving them a bowl of salad. So I finally planted it in a corner of one back garden bed that they usually bypass when wandering through our property. The plant isn’t as happy there, but that suits me perfectly because it’s slower growing, so I can keep up with it.